Bulletproof Sedan: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 240D

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This Mercedes-Benz W123 is a desirable 4-speed manual example that benefits from a whole lot of recent maintenance and has a seemingly very fair price. The W123 market runs hot and cold and lately it seems to be a bit chilly; the prices being paid are not exactly excessive. To some extent, I have a feeling a combination of a tightening economy and the realization that a W123 isn’t the fastest thing on four wheels have led to some of the cooling we’ve seen after becoming suddenly hot in 2020. The car listed here on craigslist has the legendary OM616 under the hood and the seller is asking a reasonable $4,500.

The bodywork on this 240D appears to be in fair shape overall. It’s certainly straight going down the sides, but it does look like there could be some rust creeping into the rear fender (at the very least, there’s some road rash back there). The original hubcaps are color-coordinated with the paint job and the presence of these wheel adornments suggests that the paint job is original. While many Mercedes of this era were gray-market imports, this appears to be a standard U.S. model complete with the extra large safety bumpers.

The real attraction here is the 4-speed manual, which gives this W123 some added European-market flair. Many of the W123s found overseas likely came with three pedals, a configuration that found far fewer suitors in the states. I suspect it has a lot to do with Mercedes being a pure luxury brand on this side of the pond versus being perceived as a bit more utilitarian in European countries. The interior, like all W123s, is extremely durable and still in very good shape despite showing almost 214,000 miles on the clock.

The seller has made numerous mechanical improvements to this 240D, including a new clutch, slave cylinder, and master cylinder, brake fluid flush, oil and filter change, both fuel filters changed, Bosch glow plugs, and much more. Issues are said to be minor and limited to needing a new turn signal relay and some modest trim issues. The Mercedes is said to start up without issue, even on cold Omaha mornings. For a 4-speed W123, this price seems to represent an excellent value and a good entry point into vintage car ownership. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Rocco B. for the find.

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Comments

  1. RayT

    Not the most exciting driving experience in the world, but one that should last a long, long time. For the money, it’s a slam dunk.

    And the seats appear to be MB-Tex, which is basically eternal. All in all, I’d consider a trip to Omaha for this, and a leisurely drive home.

    Like 8
  2. alphasudMember

    I have experienced the 83 240D 4-speed firsthand. Let’s get the statistics out of the way. 67 horsepower in a vehicle that weights 3100 pounds. 0-60 mph 21 seconds and mixed driving fuel economy is about 28mpg. The one I fixed up for my friend was maple yellow which is fitting for a car that is about as slow as the flow of maple syrup in January. Doing a quick internet search the average 0-60 time for a 80’s car was around 13 seconds. As of 2020 that 0-60 time has decreased to 7.8 seconds.
    Back in the 80’s my brother had a 81 Rabbit diesel with a 5-speed. 50 HP in a car that weighed 2100 pounds approximately. I enjoyed driving that car because it made you a better driver. You needed to be alert and learn to carry speed in corners. You picked your hole in traffic on the highway on ramps and worked to match velocity and if all went well with proper signaling you could slip into the hole in traffic. If something went wrong and you aborted things could get sketchy due to the lack of power. The reason I bring up the 0-60 times then versus now is the Mercedes was barely adequate in the 80’s when traffic ran slower. With todays traffic it’s just not doable unless you are thick skinned and very patient. There is no fun driving this car. As much as I love classic Mercedes (I own several) this is a car you will regret. Buy a W123 turbo diesel. That car is still adequate for today’s traffic.

    Like 5
  3. TomP

    Hmm, I thought they were talking about a real bullet-proof Mercedes. Back in the late 1990’s my girlfriend’s German grandparents had two bullet-proof Mercedes. Now that I look back, I’m pretty sure they were ex-Nazis that defected to the U.S. many years ago; but I was young and only interested in the pretty grand daughter at the time.

    Like 5
    • normadesmond

      😊

      Like 1
  4. Lonemalt

    Drive it like you stole it. Wind it out, you’ll be fine. Great cars. Too cheap; be wary; probably a scam.

    Like 0
  5. Rick

    Have had a few of these. Never met one that didn’t have a weak 2nd gear synchro trying to get the little beast going!

    Like 0
  6. DAVID BROWER

    I HAD ONE OF THESE ONCE .
    IT WASN’T BULLETPROOF & I BOUGHT IT WITH A BLOWN ENGINE
    FOR $300 . IT WAS ALSO A MANUAL WHICH IS QUITE COOL

    I GOT A CHEVY CRATE 350 AND A T5 5 SPEED TRANSMISSION
    AFTER A BIT OF WELDING MY DIESEL SLUG WAS BACK ON THE ROAD AS A SLEEPER HOTROD .

    I DID ALL I COULD TO DISGUISE WHAT I HAD DONE . THIS
    INCLUDED A 450sl AIR CLEANER AND POLISHED VALVE COVERS
    WITH MERCEDES EMBLEMS ON THEM .

    I JAZZED IT UP WITH A HUGE WEBASTO SUNROOF AND
    EURO HEADLIGHTS . IT HAD A 300td GAUGE CLUSTER
    AND THE ONLY OUTWARD CLUE OF IT’s NEW POWERPLANT
    WAS THE DUAL EXHAUST .

    IT WAS A BLAST TO DRIVE & TAUGHT MY KIDS TO DRIVE A STICK IN
    THAT CAR . STRANGE SIDE EFFECT IS THAT PEOPLE WERE ALWAYS TRYING TO PASS ME . THE 300td GUYS WERE ALWAYS SHOCKED TO
    SEE HOW FAST MY 240d WAS OFF THE MARK .

    PLENTY FAST AND 22mpg , THAT CAR WAS GREAT UNTIL I HIT A DEER WITH IT . I PATCHED IT UP AND SOLD IT TO A CUSTOM CAR BUILDER IN NEW YORK . HE PUT GERMAN POLICE MARKINGS ON IT .

    WHEN I SEE ONE OF THESE GEMS IS GOOD SHAPE FOR A LOW PRICE IT MAKES ME THINK ABOUT DOING ANOTHER ONE !

    Like 2
  7. Steve Cota

    A bit curious that the seller lists this as a 6 cylinder ?

    Like 0

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